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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-04-24

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr>

NEWS IN ENGLISH

Athens, Greece, 24/04/1997 (ANA)

MAIN NEWS HEADLINES

  • Premier kicks off visit to Germany today
  • Athens refutes local press reports alleging secret correspondence between Clinton-Simitis
  • Tzoganis, Karadayi discuss military exercises in the Aegean
  • Romania requests Greece's assistance in dispatching troops to Tirana
  • Greek humanitarian aid to Tirana
  • US crime experts in Greece
  • Macedonia-Thrace Bank presents annual profits
  • Commission sees Greece out of EMU start, despite improvements
  • Ethnic Greek arrested for drugs trafficking
  • Albanian premier's hopes for multinational force
  • Greek Ambassador not recalled from Tehran
  • High court circular against racial discrimination
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

    NEWS IN DETAIL

    Premier kicks off visit to Germany today

    The political leg of Prime Minister Costas Simitis' visit to Germany kicks off today in Bonn with talks with German Chancellor Helmut Kohl.

    Simitis, accompanied by Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou arrived in Frankfurt yesterday from Vienna for a six-day visit to Germany which is of a private and official nature.

    At the same time that Simitis is meeting with Kohl, Papandreou will have talks with German Premier Woerner Heuer which, according to informed sources, are expected to focus on preparations for the EU-Turkey Association Council in Luxembourg next week and issues related to the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC).

    After his talks with Kohl and a press conference, Simitis will meet with opposition Social Democrat (SPD) leader Oskar Lafontaine and the president of the party's parliamentary group, Rudolf Scharping, who is also president of the European Socialist party (ESP).

    Meanwhile, an ANA despatch from Bonn confirmed that Simitis would eventually be having an unscheduled meeting with German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel at the Greek Embassy this afternoon.

    Athens refutes local press reports alleging secret correspondence between Clinton-Simitis

    The government today denied a report appearing in an Athens daily claiming that Prime Minister Costas Simitis was "secretly corresponding" with US President Bill Clinton concerning Greek-Turkish relations.

    "There is no secret correspondence between Simitis and Clinton, nor any exchange of letters," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said, denying the report in the Athens daily "Ependytis."

    Reppas said former foreign undersecretary Christos Rozakis, who the newspaper claimed to have recently handed a letter from Simitis to a close associate of Clinton, "has not only not participated in such a process, but has not even visited the USA for over a year."

    Tzoganis, Karadayi discuss military exercises in the Aegean

    The government confirmed today that Chief of the National Defence Staff Gen. Athanasios Tzoganis had talks on Wednesday with his Turkish counterpart Gen. Ismail Hakki Karadayi on the sidelines of a NATO meeting in Brussels.

    Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis said that according to his information, "the talks between the two are focusing on restricting (military) exercises in the Aegean during the summer months."

    Kranidiotis said however that the talks had not concluded in agreement "since there is disagreement on the Turkish side both with respect to the time framework and regarding what we consider an exercise is and is not."

    Romania requests Greece's assistance in dispatching troops to Tirana

    Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis said today that Romania had requested Greece's assistance in despatching its contingent of troops which will be based in southern Albania as part of the multinational protection force.

    Following Greece's acceptance of the request, Kranidiotis said, the Romanian contingent will arrive in Greece by ship and be transported to Albania by Greek vehicles.

    "It is a development with considerable political significance," Kranidiotis said.

    Meanwhile, the Hellenic Navy troop vessels "Samos" and "Chios" arrived in the Albanian port of Durres yesterday with the main body of the Greek contingent participating in the multinational force.

    The remaining 110 troops of the contingent, along with 73 military vehicles, will leave from Thessaloniki for Durres on Tuesday also aboard the two troop vessels.

    National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos will visit the Greek troops in Albania on Orthodox Easter Monday (28 April).

    Greek humanitarian aid to Tirana

    Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis announced today that an Hellenic Air Force C-130 transport plane flew to Tirana this morning carrying nine tonnes of food and medical supplies for the Albanian people.

    Kranidiotis said the unscheduled humanitarian aid would be delivered to the Archbishopric in the Albanian capital on the occasion of Greek Orthodox Easter on Sunday.

    At the same time, he added, another shipment of food and other supplies set off by road this morning from the Kakavia border post with destination Gjirokaster in southern Albania, where the aid will be handed over to the local authorities.

    The second shipment comprises 6,000 packages of goods totalling 52 tonnes, which will supplement a large volume of medical supplies sent over the past few days by non-governmental organisations.

    "These initiatives underline our interest in the restoration of normality, stability and democracy in Albania," Kranidiotis told a press conference.

    US crime experts in Greece

    A team of US experts is currently in Greece at the invitation of the Public Order Ministry for an exchange of experience, scientific data and methods for investigating and combatting organised crime.

    The visit is within the framework of the ministry's efforts to expand its international cooperation.

    Meanwhile, within the next few days, an official working group will arrive from the USA to assist the Greek Police in improving officer training and organising seminars on issues such as organised crime, financial crime, narcotics, forgery and the investigation of bomb attacks.

    Macedonia-Thrace Bank presents annual profits

    The Macedonia-Thace Bank today announced profits for financial year 1996 totalling 2.4 billion drachmas while noting satisfaction with all the bank's principal magnitudes in general last year.

    According to a bank announcement, in 1996 deposits totalled 322.9 billion drachmas, marking an increase of 27.68 per cent over the previous year.

    Loans grew by 25.56 per cent to reach 205.4 billion drachmas, while total assets stood at 420.5 billion drachmas, marking an increase of 32.4 per cent over 1995.

    The announcement said the bank's board of directors had decided to propose to the general meeting of shareholders the distribution of shares gratis from reserves formed, in the proportion of one new to five old shares.

    The board will also propose that the 1996 profits be allocated to form additional reserves to safeguard against bad and doubtful debts "within the framework of ongoing efforts to rehabilitate the bank's portfolio."

    Commission sees Greece out of EMU start, despite improvements

    The European Commission's report on European Union member-states' economic policies, unveiled here yesterday,noted that despite recent progress, efforts should be more than doubled to achieve convergence programme targets in relation to inflation, the public deficit and national debt.

    The European Commission ascertained that in connection with the "crucial" criterion of the fiscal deficit for entry into Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), in 1997 13 of the 15 EU member-states will fulfill the condition concerning its decrease to below 3 per cent of GDP set by the Maastricht Treaty and two will not, Greece and Italy.

    However, indicative of the progress achieved by the Greek economy is the decision taken by the Commission yesterday to lift the threat it had made against Greece, Spain and Portugal to suspend financing by the Cohesion Fund, ascertaining that these three countries ultimately succeeded last year in decreasing their fiscal deficits to levels set out in their convergence programmes with the remaining European economies.

    Greece's deficit decreased to 7.4 per cent of GDP (the convergence programme anticipated 7.6 per cent), Portugal's to 4.1 per cent (the target was 4.3 per cent), while Spain achieved its target exactly, which was a decrease to 4.4 per cent.

    The report anticipates that in Greece inflation will decrease to 6 per cent in 1997 and 4.8 per cent in 1998 (exceeding targets set in the convergence programme). The public deficit, as a percentage of GDP, will drop to 4.9 per cent in 1997 and 3.4 per c ent in 1998, while the public debt, again as a percentage of GDP, will amount to 108.3 per cent in 1997 and 104.9 per cent in 1998.

    Ethnic Greek arrested for drugs trafficking

    An ethnic Greek from the Black Sea area of Russia was arrested today at the Promachonas customs checkpoint on the border with Bulgaria after attempting to smuggle five kilos of hashish into the country.

    Vladimiros Minin, 26, told customs officers that he had been given the hashish by Russians in Kazakhstan to take to Thessaloniki where he was to have delivered it to unknown persons at a meeting in a hotel in the northern Greek port city.

    Minin had set out for Greece in his own car but was involved in a road accident in Bucharest and had to take a coach. He was arrested when the coach stopped at the Promachonas checkpoint in the prefecture of Serres.

    Minin appeared before a public prosecutor in Serres and is currently being detained at Diavata, Thessaloniki.

    Albanian premier's hopes for multinational force

    Albanian Prime Minister Bashkim Fino said yesterday that he is relying on the support of the multinational force in Albania for a blow to be dealt to criminal gangs which "use weapons for obscure purposes."

    In an interview with the Athens News Agency (ANA), Mr. Fino also appears to be hoping for some type "Marshall plan" to bring Albania into a European orbit.

    He listed the imposition of order, procurement of foodstuffs by certain regions and the functioning of local authority structures as his country's main problems. He also placed importance on the preparing for general elections.

    Mr. Fino further said that the immediate response by the international community, including the European Union, the OSCE and the UN, shows its great concern over events in Albania.

    "I am optimistic, however, that this time the aid provided by international organisations and friendly countries will reach a level allowing for Albania's full recovery at all levels, both institutional and economic. There is also word of a 'Marshall pl an' for Albania which would place the country in a smooth and irreversible European orbit," he said.

    Mr. Fino said the problem of disarming the people will remain for quite a long time, adding that he saw no threat posed by the majority of armed citizens.

    Greek Ambassador not recalled from Tehran

    Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos said yesterday that Greece had not recalled its ambassador from Tehran, clarifying that the envoy had gone to Brussels to attend a meeting and was now in Athens on his regular leave.

    Mr. Pangalos said the ambassador would return to his post in Tehran immediately after the Easter holiday this weekend.

    The European Union presidency recently suggested that member-states should recall their ambassadors from Tehran in solidarity to Bonn, after a German court accused Iranian political leaders of ordering the assassination of several exiled Kurdish disside nts in Berlin.

    Greece has expressed reservations on the necessity of the recall measure, drawing a reaction from Bonn, with the German foreign ministry expressing surprise at the fact that Greece was the only EU country not to recall its envoy from Iran.

    High court circular against racial discrimination

    Supreme Court prosecutor Ilias Spyropoulos has addressed a circular to appeals court prosecutors throughout the country underlining legal clauses against racial discrimination on the occasion of 1997 being proclaimed the European year against racism by th e European Union.

    The circular highlights the many provisions against racial discrimination in general, which have already been incorporated in Greek law, such as the European Human Rights Treaty, the UN treaty on the prevention and suppression of genocide, the internati onal treaty abolishing all racial discrimination and the European Social Charter, which rules that there should be no discrimination regarding sex, race, colour and religion.

    Mr. Spyropoulos ordered the strict implementation of these clauses, adding that in the event of disputes concerning the interpretation of international agreements, discussions should be organised by the heads of appeals and first instance courts.

    WEATHER

    Partly cloudy weather is forecast for most parts of Greece today, especially in the western and northern regions of the country, Crete and the Dodecanese. Possibility of showers in the north. Winds will be northwesterly, weak to moderate. Almost fair weather in Athens where temperatures will range between 9-19C. May rain in the afternoon in Thessaloniki where temperatures will be from 7-16C.

    FOREIGN EXCHANGE

    Thurday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 270.717 Pound sterling 438.325 Cyprus pd 529.113 French franc 46.719 Swiss franc 184.631 German mark 157.500 Italian lira (100) 15.881 Yen (100) 214.609 Canadian dlr. 193.896 Australian dlr. 209.957 Irish Punt 418.128 Belgian franc 7.640 Finnish mark 52.467 Dutch guilder 140.060 Danish kr. 41.319 Swedish kr. 35.315 Norwegian kr. 38.321 Austrian sch. 22.382 Spanish peseta 1.871 Portuguese escudo 1.570

    (M.S.)


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